MICA working aggressively to help tornado victims

Nearly 2,000 receive aid

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY The July 19 tornado extensively damaged Mid-Iowa Community Action WIC/Maternal Care offices in the 100 block of North 1st Street. However, MICA staff re-grouped at its administrative offices in the 1000 block of 18th Avenue and elsewhere. They quickly developed a strategy to provide emergency relief services to the community’s many low-income households which were affected.

As the tornado’s impact resonated through neighborhoods and Main Street, Mid-Iowa Community Action staff worked quickly to put together and implement not one, but two relief plans.

On July 20 they set up a mechanism to collect donations to aid victims.

Approximately $9,700 was collected melded with a $15,000 pledge from Alliant Energy and $200,000 from JBS, which donated $1 million to Marshalltown relief efforts.

Late in the afternoon of July 20, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds made a disaster declaration, meaning eligible residents could qualify for state disaster assistance.

By July 24, staff set up Iowa Disaster Assistance Grant application procedures.

They did all this despite the tornado crushing one MICA office in the 100 block of North 1st St. and significantly damaging the roof and breaking windows at a South 2nd Street office near Main Street. However, staff were able to work at MICA’s administrative office on 18th Avenue.

Currently, IDAG and other relief applications are now being taken at the local Trinity Lutheran Church, 1011 S. Third Ave.

For IDAG, applicants must bring proof of all household income or last 30 days or 2017 tax return, photo identification for all adults in household, copy of homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, auto insurance and registration if requesting assistance for vehicle repair. Depending on one’s claim, additional documentation may be necessary. The application deadline is Sept. 6.

McAtee emphasized MICA was working to help all eligible families.

“My biggest concern after a number of recent (televised) media reports will discourage, or scare people away … these are the people we want to serve,” she said. “We want to get the word out we have funding to serve people from a variety of situations. We apologize if we did not have enough initially to serve everyone who did not qualify for the state program. However, we have received more in donations since. We are reaching out to residents who may have been told by other sources we did not have resources at the time. We urge all to come to Trinity Lutheran Church and we will look at their situation, be they homeowners, renters, ambulatory, disabled and others. If one does not qualify for the state-funded IDAG, we will look at their application to provide help from other sources.”

• Between July 24 and Aug. 10, MICA took applications from 498 families.

• Also between July 24 and Aug. 10 MICA had 435 applications in process.

• 22 families of the 498 were not eligible for the state program. Consequently, they were served from the donation fund.

• 11 families did not complete applications. From the Iowa Disaster Assistance program, 418 families received aid for personal property losses, such as appliances, small appliances, bedding, furniture and clothes. A projected $395,500 will be spent to meet those needs.

• 135 families received home repair assistance. A projected $697,000 will be spent.

• 156 families received assistance to pay for food. It is projected $39,000 will be applied.

• 43 families received help with temporary shelter expenses. Amount projected to be spent is $85,000.

• $127,000 in non-state aid help was obligated toward families who did not qualify for the state program but needed a variety of assistance. These funds came from tornado relief donations and a special MICA fund. For example, some required help paying for structure repairs, which when completed, would allow Alliant Energy to connect electric utility.

Alliant officials had announced previously they could not connect a household to electric utility unless exterior utility connections were safe.

As of Friday, McAtee said 758 Caucasian, 606 Latino, 61 Asian and 271 families representing other races had been served by state and donation programming. Those not qualifying for IDAG will be considered for help from the donation fund.

McAtee said a large percentage of those qualifying for help will also receive case management assistance, meaning staff have or will follow-up with them to examine all resources for current and immediate needs

Established in 1965, MICA is in its sixth decade of helping Central Iowa children and families affected by poverty.

It also addresses the causes and conditions of poverty.

Head Start, Family Development and Self Sufficiency, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Women, Infants and Children are several of its well-known programs.

It serves residents in Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek, Story and Tama counties.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com